3 Keys to a Long Life
We all face the final frontier of old age and death. Death and life are intertwined, and death is never too far from our daily lives.
We all have a waning window of time during which to take advantage of this incredible and precious human life and to live our dreams.
Once in my twenties, having just returned from the war in Vietnam, I heard a preacher give a sermon that stuck with me…
“We are born human beings. This means we are both humans and beings. Some of us are more human than beings. Humans have limits. Beings do not. Beings are limitless. Humans get old. Beings evolve.”
He continued, “Humans die. Beings do not. Humans need jobs. Beings have missions.”
Since I’d faced death so many times in combat, his words had an immediate impact. While in Vietnam, I witnessed events that are not explainable within the traditional context of life and death. As a classmate of mine who also served in Vietnam said, “I am alive because dead men kept fighting.”
In Vietnam, I came to know the difference between body and spirit or — as that preacher was defining it — the difference between humans and beings. Once I was touched by the power of our spirits, I came back a different human because I was a different being.
Obviously, this difference between humans and beings and body and spirit caused many problems in my life. Once you are not afraid of dying, you can begin to live.
In our book, Rich Brother Rich Sister, my sister Tenzin, wrote:
During life, we grow from children into adults and then into old age. Our body ages and there is a limit to our physical longevity. Today the average lifespan of Americans is about eighty years, but with global warming, pollution, and other conditions, it is uncertain how much more we can improve or extend our lives. Given the right conditions, however, the mind can continue to improve. It does not age as the body does, and while there can be problems such as brain disease, intoxicants like alcohol, or too much television, given the right conditions the mind has the potential to excel limitlessly.
It is possible to overcome the overwhelming gravity of sluggish, unproductive bad habits. We have to conscientiously change our mental attitudes and actions to cultivate compassion and wisdom, love and kindness for others and ourselves, overcoming greed, and bias, and self-interest. We cannot control or change what has already happened in the past, but we have the capacity to determine and direct our motivations and actions now — in this life — creating better causes and conditions for our future.
Life being impermanent, we have a window of time to accomplish our goals.
3 traits to longevity
A few years back, Michael Hewitt, a Ph.D., and expert in health-and-exercise physiology shared the results of an eye opening study with a group of students at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona.
The study looked at a group of people 100 years old or older to find traits that contributed to their long life.
Those traits are:
They have the sense of being of value — to themselves and others.
A sense of purpose is the core reason why you want to reach whatever goals you have in mind. It’s something bigger than you and bigger than the perceived outcome (which might be money, for instance). Your purpose drives you to keep going, no matter what.
According to “The Journal of the American Medical Association” and “The Archives of General Psychiatry,” having a sense of purpose in life reduces the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and increases cognitive function.
Optimistic people tend to have a strong sense of well-being and confidence. It’s been said that pessimistic people tend to be more accurate, but optimistic people live longer. That certainly was true in this centenarian study.
U.S. News & World Report recently reviewed the Longevity Genes Project done by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Here, researchers discovered that centenarians are “often extroverts who embrace the world from an optimistic and carefree perspective.”
A good sense of humor was also important to longevity. Results indicated that “the majority of near-centenarians were found to be relaxed, friendly, conscientious and upbeat about life. Importantly, said the authors, an easy laugh and an active social life were observed to be a group norm.”
Resiliency is how quickly you can deal with, and bounce back from, adversity. Of the three traits, this is the one that I believe determines which people will see success instead of failure.
Per the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, “each time you suffer a setback, are exposed to a situation that has you feeling overwhelmed, or during times of great effort, your ‘battery’ depletes and it can age you too fast if you don’t do something about it.”
Donald Trump once told me that the determinant to whether a person will succeed in business depends upon how he or she responds in tough times. Do they curl up in the fetal position, resolved to a life of failure? Or do they dust themselves off, smile wisely, and get back to work, smarter from the experience?
The marines taught me how to willingly give my life for a higher purpose, and to have no fear.
When R. Buckminster Fuller said, “I do not work for me, I work for everyone,” and “Find out what God wants done, and do it” I suddenly found my true purpose in life. I was to make an impact the way Bucky had impacted my life.
Sometimes we need to hear things more than once and from more than one person for the message to sink in. When Dr. Fuller said the same things that my rich and poor dads and presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy had said, the message carried more impact. It was like finally finding a piece of my life’s puzzle — that piece helped my life make more sense and take on greater meaning.
Fuller talked about each of us having a purpose to be here on earth — a job to do. He talked about each of us having a special God-given gift and that it was our job to develop our gifts and give our gifts to the world. He was adamant that we weren’t here just to make money. He was certain humans were here on earth to create a world that worked for everyone, not just the rich or those born in Western countries.
Today I wonder if my dad’s struggle led me closer to my life’s purpose; if it was the reason for writing Rich Dad Poor Dad, for creating the CASHFLOW board game, and for my efforts to provide financial education throughout the world.
Play it smart,
Editor, Rich Dad Poor Dad Daily